I have now lived and worked in Key West for six months without a car. Every trip to my place of employment, every trip to the bank, to a restaurant, carry-out joint, coffee shop, drug store, hardware store, post office, tax office, nail salon, hair salon, dentist, or doctor is done on foot or by bike. I rode my bike to get my Florida driver’s license, for cryin’ out loud. Approximately once a month I pay for a round trip cab ride to the Publix for bulk items, but the majority of my food shopping is done at the downtown grocery, my bike basket capable of holding one large bag. While I originally balked at spending $13 – $15 for the grocery taxi, it is still a hell of a lot cheaper than the cost of a car, insurance, gas and maintenance.
Life without a car is not an easy challenge and not recommended for those who lean towards lazy. I don’t ask for rides—my decision to not have a car is not going to be someone else’s burden. Every errand requires route and time consideration. One trip for groceries took 4 hours: it included a bike ride to the bank for cab cash, the cab ride, the shopping, the cab home and carrying the groceries down the lane to my house as my lane is pedestrian traffic only (lesson learned—don’t grocery shop by cab at rush hour).
So why would I chose to live this way, you wonder. First and foremost, to save money —cars are expensive, period. I also wanted to live a life with less—less stuff, less responsibility, less stress. I wanted to explore the notion that life can be simpler yet richer, and to date I have found this to be true. And, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I wanted to stick it to my husband, the ultimate car junkie, tire expert, race car enthusiast and total pain in the ass when it comes to anything with wheels. Take that, car jar—I don’t need no stinkin’ Beamer.
And what do I miss as a result of my decision? Not much. I would like to explore the Keys and take day trips up and down the coast. I’m told that lots of folks take daily car rentals for such excursions but frankly, I don’t want to make that trip alone and when the right day-tripper comes to visit, I will rent a car. This magnificent island, which is only 2 x 4 miles, is perfect biking terrain, flat, not congested, scenic, and I can walk to just about anywhere in 30 minutes or less. I mostly shop online which I have done for the past 25 years and only once in six months did I need a cab because of foul weather. And if you don’t know by now that walking is the key to healthy longevity, you have most definitely been living under the coral.
Circumstances will change and I may change my mind sometime in the future. I do see myself in a golf cart taking my grandbabies to the beach but that may be a rental as well. Right now there are two big payoffs—my legs are like steel. I could play women’s soccer or I could crush a man’s head with my thighs should I choose. And I’m ridiculously proud of my mastering the task of transportation. I did this, I made it work. Got wheels? Nope. Don’t need ‘em.
And a special thank you to the lovely ms. dvd for the basket for my second bike–that’s right, I got two bikes.
photo credit: oaklandnorth.net